The Chinese Nutrition Society and WildAid’s “5 To Do Today” campaign have partnered up to promote cutting meat consumption in China by 50%, which would benefit both human health and the environment, not to mention all the pigs.
The president of the Chinese Nutrition Society stated that “overconsumption of meat, especially processed meat, will impose adverse effects on our body, affecting our health in the long run.” Recently, the National Health and Family Planning Commission has also issued a set of dietary guidelines which encourage its citizens to reduce their consumption of meat and eggs.
At present, the rate of meat consumption in China is expected to rise by 50% by 2030, to 93 kg per person per year. To satisfy this incredible craving, China would be forced to import meat from the rest of the world. In stark contrast, the new recommended amount of meat is just 27.4 kg per person per year. According to WildAid, this diet change can reduce chances of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity and other health conditions. Although still not at Western levels of decadence, the percentage of Chinese children who are overweight or obese has risen from 5 percent to 20 percent in just one generation.
“5 To Do Today” estimates that if everyone in China adopts this diet, global greenhouse gas emissions can fall by 1.5%. This is based on an estimate by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that livestock agriculture and meat production makes up 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
A more recent estimate, which accounts for several possible inaccuracies in the FAO estimate, claims that animal agriculture makes up of more than 51% of greenhouse gas emissions, which makes curbing meat consumption even more of an environmental necessity. This report from US-based think tank, the World Watch Institute, is written by former and current World Bank environmental advisers.
Furthermore, animal husbandry plays a big role in using up the world’s food and water, and cutting down consumption of meat may help meet growing human needs. The world grows over 1.5 times enough food to feed everyone on the planet if all of it is fed to humans, according to a study from McGill University and the University of Minnesota. While it takes only 2,000 liters of water to produce a kilogram of soybeans, 43,000 liters is needed to produce a kilogram of beef. Only 630 liters are needed for 1 kilogram of potatoes.
Imagine what could happen when China, the biggest consumer of meat in the world, cuts down its meat consumption by half.
By Amy Yang